Happy Halloween! Rural Studio wasn’t the same last year without our annual traditional Halloween celebration. This year, we made up for it tenfold by carving pumpkins with our neighbors and friends again, and holding outdoor reviews during which everyone could show off their elaborately-handmade costumes.
Our annual Pumpkin Carve was held on Wednesday at Red Barn, and the event would not have been possible without our partnership with the incredible Newbern Library Team. Thank you to Barbara Williams and Mary Jane Everett for helping put together a successful event, and shoutout to the Braxton family and Chris Carter for providing hotdogs fresh off the grill!
We held Halloween Reviews on Friday, where current student teams presented their projects to special guest reviewers. Our fantastic crew of reviewers included Marlon Blackwell and Meryati Johari Blackwell of Marlon Blackwell Architects; Tulane University’s Assistant Director of the Small Center, Emilie Taylor Welty; Auburn University’s Assistant Professor, Jen Pindyck; and Auburn’s Front Porch Initiative Team: Betsy Farrell Garcia, Mackenzie Stagg, and Rusty Smith.
Most importantly, students all wore their costumes while presenting their projects to the talented team of reviewers. There’s nothing like presenting design work to an AIA Gold Medalist while wearing a fake mustache and bowl-cut brunette wig.
At the end of the day, we announced winners for the Pumpkin Carving Contest and the Costume Contest. Thanks to the Newbern Mercantile and the Newbern Library for providing amazing prizes! Congrats to all and thank you to our judges!
Each September, 5th-year and master’s students participate in roughly four weeks of workshops led by consultants with expertise in subjects like landscape, sketching, structural engineering, building codes & ordnances, geotechnical and environmental engineering, as well as artists and graphic designers. This process is directed toward students gaining familiarity with the year’s projects, with consultants exploring important questions related to their field. Students also divide into charette teams to share the newly acquired knowledge amongst each other and thereby get to know one another better. The workshop process culminates with students choosing the project and designing the team they will be working both on and with for the rest of their time in the program.
How do you begin when you have no idea where to start? You just do. For the next few weeks, 5th-year and master’s students will document each workshop. At the completion of the workshops, the students will create a book of their experiences and lessons learned. The Graphics and Documentation workshop, with RS alumnus, Danny Wicke, and architectural photographer, Tom Harris, differs from any other because these lessons inform how the students work over the entirety of their book-making process. It sets the stage for how the next seven workshops will go as they create a framework for the entire process. Over the course of three days, Danny and Tom taught them about documentation, communication, presentation, and relation(ships). The students began the process of creating a book and working as a team.
The goals of the workshop were to emphasize the importance of documentation, discuss strategies for documenting work successfully, develop a structure to document upcoming workshops, produce a book that documents the workshop series, and build upon previous versions of the book.
Creating a book is more than generating words on a page. A good book tells a story. This workshop provided the basic framework of storytelling and how crafting a narrative with mindful design and documentation can make or break a book’s success. Book design and documentation act in unison, representing the narrative in a captivating way. When deciding how to design and layout a book, many decisions will overlap, making it crucial to have a general direction and overview of the book’s content from beginning to end. Some more technical design considerations include setting a baseline or regular grid layout, typography and font hierarchy, page margins, column count, paper medium, furniture, gutter space, book cover, and size.
Documentation should be mindful and not an afterthought to fill pages. The objective is to go beyond “just capturing” a moment by introducing an artistic voice that is represented through multiple mediums. Successful documentation is interactive and should captivate the audience. This workshop stressed the importance of elevating mediums (i.e. photography, montages, graphics, drawings, etc.) to intrigues the reader and further convey the story instead of acting to fill dead space. It is important to have a regimented game plan to record moments before they happen. This can be through the lens of a skilled photographer who is always considering light, angles, and exposure, or it is direction given to all team members to snap an individual moment that can later be used for a montage.
As the first workshop, the goal is to communicate direction prior to successive workshops in order to fully capture their significance and maintain cohesion between text and imagery.